International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

Events bring healing and mental health awareness to the Chippewa Valley
Published: Nov. 19, 2022 at 6:00 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Today is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. To help those affected by suicide, the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention hosts hundreds of events around the world.

One of these events was held right in the Chippewa Valley. This event and other initiatives are working to bring the importance of mental health into the spotlight.

Community members who’ve lost a loved one to suicide came together at The Center in Eau Claire to share their experiences. Organizer of the event, Janelle Moneypenny, shared the importance of bringing people together.

“We wanted to have this day with the intention of being able to have a place that’s safe, to feel that loss, and to process and to have that support from people who can empathize with you on that level,” Moneypenny said.

This time of year can be especially difficult for survivors of suicide loss.

“It can be very lonely in grief and experiencing loss, and you can feel the loss maybe a little bit more intensely around the holidays,” Moneypenny said.

Moneypenny also said losing someone from suicide comes with a unique set of struggles. She said people are left wanting a reason why and often ask what they could have done differently.

“Death is painful and it’s always going to be painful no matter how you lose that person, but they know how death by suicide feels a little bit different because of all of those questions that you’re left with,” Moneypenny said.

Coming together gives survivors a chance to not only heal but also celebrate the lives of their loved ones.

“Just because they’re not with us anymore doesn’t mean we don’t still have beautiful memories and happy memories of the people we lost. And sometimes we can focus so much on the pain that we forget all of those beautiful memories that we have,” Moneypenny said.

She said sharing personal experiences is one way to destigmatize mental health struggles and hopefully prevent suicides.

“The first step is we have to be able to talk about it. We have to be able to have these conversations,” Moneypenny said.

At HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, staff are also working to make conversations about suicide more common and mental health services more readily available. To work towards that goal, the hospital recently sponsored suicide prevention trainings.

Community Health Outreach Specialist with HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals, Melissa Ives, said everyone should take part in suicide prevention and awareness.

“What’s really important to remember is that suicide prevention is everybody is responsible. We can’t have trained mental health professionals on every street corner. So on every street corner, we need folks who know how to recognize and respond to potential suicidal ideation and behaviors,” Ives said.

HSHS Sacred Heart plans to schedule more training sessions in the community. You can find any upcoming classes on their website.

If you or someone you know needs support, call or text 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.